Happy Diwali!

Diwali is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in the Hindu faith. This Festival of Light, celebrating the triumph of light over shadow, good over evil, lasts for five days, though the third day is considered the biggest day of the celebration. In 2015, the holiday falls November 9-13, so the biggest day was Wednesday, but there is still time to light a candle in honor of this luminous, beautiful celebration.

I thought it might be nice to spotlight some Indian and Indian-American themed novels this week, especially since there are so many out there to recommend!

If you follow me, you know that I’m a big fan of Sonali Dev, whose second book, The Bollywood Bride, came out last month. Even more emotionally intense than her 2014 debut, A Bollywood Affair, with this second title Dev has proven herself to be a bright, powerful voice in romance, while introducing readers to an Indian-American community that may be unfamiliar, but is compelling, engaging, and highlights common themes of friendship, loyalty, and love in ways in which any reader can identify. A lovely book. (By the way, Dev wrote a nice piece for the Chicago Tribune on Diwali which includes a few more book recs. You can read that here.) 

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I’ve mentioned Shona Patel before too, but she’s also worth another shoBollywood Brideut out for Diwali. I loved her 2013 debut, Teatime for the Firefly, which includes elements of tragedy, but ultimately graces us with a happily-ever-after. The same can’t entirely be said for this year’s Flame Tree Road, which was a sort of prequel to Teatime, but both books are beautiful, lyrical looks at some tumultuous events in India and some extraordinary characters who live, love, strive, and grieve through their struggles.

I recently came across a couple other romances that feature Indian characters, and which also have Beauty and the Beast themes. They both sound terrific, though I haven’t had the chance to read them.

Bollywood and the Beast is part of the Bollywood Confidential series by Suleikha Snyder, and seems to explore a variety of issues, including external appearances, interfaith relationships, and a secondary same-sex romance. I love Beauty and the Beast romance arcs, and this one looks like an emotionally intense winner.

I also love the concept of Bootie and the Beast by Falguni Kothari. Indian supermodel Diya Mathur buys a baby bootie and suddenly her reputation is in tatters, so she hides out in Texas with her best friend, Krish, who happens to be a workaholic, financial whiz, and her lifelong secret crush. Super yum!

Kothari also just published Soul Warrior, the first of what looks to be a fantasy series based on Indian myBollywood and the BEastthology and includes a healthy dose of humor, action, and adventure. I loved this line from the write-up:

“When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.”

The idea of godlings as rebellious students makes the book sound peek-worthy on its own.

Interested in reading beyond the romance genre? Two titles that have been highly recommended to me:

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

The Story Hour (or anything) by Thrity Umrigar

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate and founder of ReadARomanceMonth.comShe mostly writes about books and romance for NPRThe Huffington Post and Kirkus.